Well here we are at Part 3…a hiding place. (If you missed Part 1 and Part 2, I do hope you’ll stop here and take a moment to go back and read those two.) Before I share what I thought was the last installment of this story with you, I must let you know that God added another chapter to this last night. But isn’t that just like Him. When you think it couldn’t possibly get better, it does. When you think He couldn’t possibly bless and amaze you anymore than you are right this second, He does. I do love Him so.
So coming home from the Worship conference, I felt like I was in a daze. My spirit was so filled with Jesus, my mind reeling with revelations of Him, my heart feeling as though it just might burst with joy and with love. I felt like I had uncovered a treasure that had been buried and forgotten…actually more like one that I’d not just forgotten, but had never even realized was there. My understanding of worship had changed…I had changed. I had rediscovered my First Love and my passion for Him was renewed. I had seen visions of Jesus, felt the agony of watching Him hold a part of my darkness in His hand. That beautiful nail-scarred hand. The hand of a Master Craftsman. The hand of a Warrior…a Savior – my Savior, your Savior. And I had felt the overwhelming joy of freedom, been enveloped in Him, in His love…that love that covers a multitude of sins and mistakes, a love that is mine and is yours to receive freely. A blessed time indeed.
But I struggled a lot when we got back home. If I can be bluntly honest, coming back to my own church was tough. When you go from a time of worshipping God with a sanctuary full of worship leaders and pastors fully engaged with their Creator and then come back to leading a congregation in worship that’s peppered with arm-crossers and blank faces, with people coming in late and talking during the opening song, watching mouths barely move to utter words like “there is none like You” or “I love Your presence,” for me that was…well, heart-wrenching. I wanted to grab the microphone at times and just scream out do you know Who you are singing to? Do you even hear the words you are singing?
Okay, can I just stop here and say that this wasn’t at all where I was planning to go with this. But, here we are. Now before you rush to annihilate me with accusations of throwing stones or judging people’s insides by what their outsides say, I do realize that there are people in my congregation that don’t know Jesus. There are also many who are under the bondage of doctrine or legalism that says church must be quiet and reverent and there can be no shouting or dancing or arm raising. Of this I am painfully aware since I was in that same bondage myself in the not so distant past. But cut me a little slack here. I just wanted to see people free and it was frustrating beyond measure to watch some barely mumble praises to the Lord of Hosts. He deserves more than crossed arms and garbled hallelujahs. I wanted God to just peel back the roof and blast us with His glory. My heart was to see the chains come off, to see prison doors opened…to see the posture of our bodies in worship match the posture of our hearts. And if our bodies were in fact a true reflection of our hearts – stiff and hindered – then my desire was for God to change our hearts. And He can if we will open ourselves up and let Him.
And it was about here that I really started to feel fear trying to creep its way back in. Those of us that had gone to the conference had come back from Texas with our hearts on fire about to burn out of our chests. We were so excited about everything we’d learned and had our eyes opened to and wanted so much to begin to implement those things…to really stir the hearts of our church body to a deeper worship of Jesus. But there was a knot in my stomach at the thought that despite it all, nothing would change. That we would be excited for a while, our passions renewed for a while, that we might even talk through some potential changes but then it would eventually die down and get stuffed in the back of a closet somewhere, forgotten and many people would just continue to see church as something to check off their weekly to-do list.
And what had me by the throat was that even after all I had seen and heard and felt in my own heart and spirit, still somewhere in the depths of my mind I kept hearing the enemy whisper that I hadn’t really changed at all.
But then God came and met me at the curtain…
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord,
the veil is taken away.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is freedom.
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory,
are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory,
which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:16-18
Come back and let’s walk past the curtain together…I can’t wait to tell you what I found on the other side…